By A.J. Nemitz, NEPASportsNation.com Student Journalist
MOSCOW – Back in 1991, North Pocono had an extremely dominant football team that included some noteworthy players who went on to play at the collegiate level.
The team went undefeated that year with a record of 12-0 and was led by Keith Olsommer, who went on to play at Penn State University. Other notable players on that team included Jason Sepkowski, who went on to play at the University of Pittsburgh, and B.J. Gallis who played for Lafayette College.
This legendary North Pocono team finished as Big 11 champion by beating a Valley View team that a year later captured a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state title.
The Cougars had an opportunity a year later that evaded the unbeaten North Pocono team.
In 1991, Pennsylvania state football championships were in just their fourth year and only four teams qualified in each class. The PIAA was still trying to figure out the best way to have teams qualify for the state title.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, they fell victim to these circumstances and didn’t qualify for the state championships even though they were widely regarded as one of the best teams in the state, even reaching No. 1 in Class 3A between the state semifinal and final round in the rankings by the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the most-respected rankings in that era.
Instead of playing in the state tournament, North Pocono’s season ended in the prestigious Eastern Conference Class I playoffs where the Trojans defeated Mount Carmel in the semifinals.
Berwick, with future Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus, came to North Pocono for the final with a legendary program that had already won a 1988 state title and was about to add five more in six years between 1992 and 1997.
Going into the last possession of the hard-fought game, North Pocono trailed, 21-14, and had 2:20 left to save its perfect season.
The Trojans marched down the field, leading to a 6-yard Olsommer touchdown catch on a pass from Gallis with 36 seconds left.
Coach Nick Donato wasn’t going to settle for anything short of going for the win, so he called for a two-point conversion, putting trust in the offensive line, which cleared the way for Ryan McGee to score the winner in a 22-21 victory for the Eastern Conference title.
North Pocono celebrated its Eastern Conference champions with a 30-year reunion Friday night in conjunction with the Delaware Valley game that decided the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 1 title.
Many of the players and coaches made the return to be honored at North Pocono’s Stadium. Making the reunion even more special is that Delaware Valley is coached by Olsommer, the all-state end from the unbeaten team.
“I can’t believe it’s been 30, unbelievably fast years,” Olsommer said at the reunion. “We were blessed when we came through, we had a lot of really, really good people and then obviously your teammates that you play with, we shared a lot of special moments together, so this is a special place for me.”
Olsommer’s return trips to North Pocono on the opposing sidelines bring back a lot of memories.
“We did some really cool things together and had a lot of success, so anytime you come back here you remember those things,” he said.
Donato was there, watching his former team and watching his former star player follow him into high school coaching success.
“He’s done so well,” Donato said. “You know I’m thrilled for him and so proud of what he’s doing.”
Jeff West, a North Pocono Intermediate School guidance counselor, was among the players at the reunion.
“It’s great to see everybody and it’s great what North Pocono is doing to honor a group of people here tonight,” West said.
The returning alumni players met prior to the start of the game in the North Pocono Middle School.
While waiting for the game to begin, they met up with former friends, teammates, and coaches who were able to make the trip. In the cafeteria, there was food, drinks, and T-shirts for the alumni and scrapbooks that included the articles that were written about the team in 1991.
Donato shared his favorite memory of the 1991 team.
“I guess the finish here, beating Berwick and kind of the elation on everybody’s face,” he said.
The reunion included players from the 1991 team serving as honorary captains for the coin toss and all players and coaches that were in attendance announced. They took the field for a trip on the field followed by a trip down memory lane as the team’s accomplishments were read for everyone in the stadium to hear.
See more pictures from the reunion and Friday night’s game in the Delaware Valley-North Pocono Photo Gallery. https://nepasportsnation.com/delaware-valley-north-pocono-photo-gallery/.